Chido Dzinotyiwei is the co-founder of the Zimbabwe Economic Youth Foundation (ZEYF), a non-profit organisation that is committed to empower youth aged 18-35 to think and do what is needed for economic development.
ZEYF prioritises the need to secure inclusive equality of opportunity in the economy.
The organisation was founded out of a need to address a challenge. At the time, Chido and her co-founder needed data on Zimbabwe’s youth and economy on which to base their thesis, and could not find any. They realised that there was a gap in the market and opportunity for a unique organisation that could foster economic development and begin collating data, and the ZEFT was born. The concept of the organisation “think and do” aims to challenge young people not only to become think tanks, but to implement their ideas and see them become a reality.
In December 2018, the ZEYF hosted its launch conference in Zimbabwe on special economic zones, which over 70 participants at the University of Zimbabwe attended. Speakers from the private sector addressed delegates on Mining and Manufacturing, Agriculture and Argo-processing, infrastructure and construction, tourism and connectivity.
The event was hosted as the foundation of relations between the more experienced generation of older people already in the various industries, and the youth – to help bridge the knowledge gap and share experiences to empower youth to understand areas in which they can participate.
As the Zimbabwean government works to restore the full functionality of the economy, special economic zones are a key focus, as these present major production potentials which can boost the flow of money in the economy as well as create jobs. In February 2019 the foundation established the ZEYF WhatsApp group as a form of communication.
In June 2019 the foundation also hosted a business case challenge in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, where youth had to pitch business ideas to solve some of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic challenges, for prize money of US$500. This will be an annual event, aiming to increase the number of opportunities to grow and support Zimbabwean entrepreneurs as financial support is limited.
Her vision for the next five years is to build a financially stable ZEFY and provide scholarship programmes to youth to groom a pool of young people that can provide quality consulting services across the various sectors of business.
ZEYF also aims to establish partnerships with other like-minded organisations across the region, in order to bridge the cultural divides and address issues of xenophobia by fostering a culture of unity and working together to address common challenges that people across Africa continue to face. She says that for Africa to grow its economy as a whole, there is a need for unity and for the youth of the continent to have an “I can do” mindset, and start now, start small, and build from there.
Chido was also part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). In May 2019, she completed the Business and Entrepreneurship Track as part of Cohort 17 of YALI.